Some 15 years ago my aunt and uncle gave me the gift of goat for Christmas.
Let me rephrase: They didn't give me an actual goat, but they donated a goat -- in my honor -- to a village in a third world country.
At 15, I was less than pleased. The plight of starving children and the needs of indigent humans around the globe was far too serious and far too abstract for my selfish teenage brain to wrap itself around.
Today, though, I find myself in the ironic position of wanting to buy goats, mosquito nets and other items as Christmas gifts in honor of my own family members. This causes me to look back on my selfishness at 15 and see how blind I was to the idea of grace, how blind I was to the beauty and significance of my aunt and uncle's gift.
I bring all of this up because of a new web/television show that just debuted last week on the interweb called Missions in Action. In the interests of full disclosure I must confess that I am a creative producer on the show and helped develop it from its inception, but the reason I signed on to the project was not to be involved with a television show; instead, I bought in because of how inspiring the mission was: to bring the camera into pockets of the world where unsung missionary and humanitarian organizations are doing amazing work.
In our first phone call together the show's producers told me that they wanted to show the world what the face of selflessness looks like and to, in the process, show people exactly what their gifts and donations accomplish when they contribute to a missionary and/or humanitarian nonprofit.
In this first season, Missions in Action is teamed up with four nonprofit aid organizations: Compassion International, WorldVision, ChildFund and the Mocha Club.
Just five days ago the show's first episode went live and featured host Alex Boylan meeting families in the Philippines whose lives are turned upside down each year because of the epic flooding that takes place in the area.
The second episode -- a new episode launches every two days -- which is also based in the Philippines features a 22-year-old Philippine girl named Maan and traces her 15 year trajectory through the Compassion program: the five sponsors who helped her along the way; the education she received through the program; the hope she found in Jesus; the way she is currently finishing college and hopes to work as a Project Director for Compassion so as to help other kids like herself rise above their disadvantages.
Watching organizations like Compassion impact people's lives is showing me how important it is that, as human beings, we realize that we are all connected, how we must do whatever we can to lift one another in times of need and to provide hope for one another's future.
In other words, watching these first episodes of Missions in Action has reminded me that there is but One Love and that we are to, as Bono says, carry each other.
In that spirit, this holiday season I will be doing what I can to help, and I hope that my teenage cousins won't be too distraught when they see how I'm choosing to do it. But then again, who knows... perhaps they are far more mature and selfless than I was at 15.
Perhaps they may think it wonderful when they peel off their wrapping paper only to find out they've just donated goats to villages in need.
To learn more about organizations like Compassion and WorldVision and to follow along on Alex's journey, go to www.missionsinaction.tv. You can chat with him on twitter at @missionstv and interact with him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/missionsinaction twenty-four hours a day. Who knows, maybe his journey will inspire you to give the gift of goat this holiday season.